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Happy To Be Wanted, Eric Winston Ready

Posted Jul 26, 2013

Notebook: Tackle will battle for right-side spot; Kitchens to stay out of the heat

New right tackle Eric Winston (65) talks with assistant offensive line coach Larry Zierlein during the Cardinals' first practice of training camp Friday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Eric Winston has every right to believe he’ll start at right tackle for the Cardinals.

The seven-year veteran hasn’t missed a start since 2006, running his streak to 103. Last season, Winston helped Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles set career highs of 285 carries and 1,509 yards.

But Winston isn’t taking anything for granted, especially after the unemployed summer he experienced. He was released by the Chiefs in early March and signed with the Cardinals on Thursday.

Winston entered camp grateful for an opportunity but hungry to prove his worth.

“You compete every year you’re in the league,” he said. “Those guys who don’t think they’re competing in the league are usually out of it pretty fast. I’ve been lucky enough to be a starter for a long time and played a lot of consecutive games but every year I’ve come into camp trying to win a spot and this year won’t be any different.”

Coach Bruce Arians said Winston is in an open competition with Bobby Massie for the right tackle job as training camp kicked off its first full day Thursday.

Last season Winston allowed just four sacks, according to Pro Football Focus, his lowest total in three years. Keeping Carson Palmer upright is a “big deal for any offense,” Winston said. It’s a bigger deal for a team that allowed 58 sacks in 2012.

“We’re going to have to keep him clean, we’re going to have to open up some holes, create some chances in the play-action game and do everything that we do,” Winston said.

Center Lyle Sendlein said the additional competition is welcomed but Winston’s experience will benefit the younger tackles, especially Massie and Nate Potter.

Winston was attracted to the Cardinals because they’re a “sleeper team in a way.” But what lured him to Arizona was a simple human need.

“They wanted me more than anything,” Winston said. “I think you want to go somewhere you’re wanted.”

FROSTEE PUT ON ICE

Defensive end Frostee Rucker will be limited in practice until the Cardinals don pads, which could be sometime this weekend, Arians said Thursday.

Rucker was taken off the non-football injury/illness list but is dealing with a slight calf strain.

Guard Daryn Colledge was also absent Friday because of a personal matter.

HEAT TO TEMPER KITCHENS’ RETURN

Quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens has been cleared to return to coaching by doctors, but Arians implemented his own restrictions on his former player. Kitchens wasn’t allowed to coach during the Cardinals’ two outdoor practices Tuesday and Wednesday. Arians said Friday he’s still deciding whether he’ll let Kitchens, who was rushed to a Phoenix hospital on June 4 due to an aorta defect, coach during the team’s three outdoor practices during training camp.

“As long as were indoors, full-speed ahead,” Arians said.

THREE OUTDOOR PRACTICES SCHEDULED

Arians shared more details about the three outdoor practices he mentioned Thursday. In order to get the Cardinals accustomed to playing outdoors in pads, Arians will take the team back to their Tempe practice facility three times, one being Aug. 1.  The other two are undetermined but Arians said he’ll move practices that were initially scheduled to be held in the team’s new bubble outside, but will look at the weather forecast first.

“The nice thing about it, when we have them scheduled the bubbles are available and they’ll be right next to us and they’ll be ready to go,” Arians said.


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